“If It’s Physical, It’s Therapy”
Debates about the scope of practice informed the trajectory of physical therapy education during the 1990s. Seeking greater professional autonomy, many physical therapists argued for the necessity of direct access, the ability to evaluate and treat patients without a physician referral. Through co-op experiences, Bouvé students encountered the parameters of physical therapy practice. The department responded to the shifting relationship between physicians and physical therapists. In 1996, it expanded program offerings with an entry level Master’s, a crucial prerequisite for transitioning to the Doctor in Physical Therapy as the terminal degree. With a professional degree in place, Bouvé positioned itself to respond to the next trend in physical therapy education – faculty and student research. Since 2009, the department has expanded to nine research labs, including a robotics and gait assisted rehab lab, neuro-physical therapy lab, occupational ergonomics lab, and cancer survivorship center.